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Coronavirus | South Asian coordination on pandemic crisis intensifies

Bangladesh pledges $1.5 million to SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund

Members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation intensified anti-COVID-19 steps to secure people from the pandemic. Sri Lanka evacuated a large number of Buddhist pilgrims from India in the early hours of Sunday before India stopped all flights as Kathmandu boosted health inspection on the Indo-Nepal border.

“All Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims, who were stranded in India, have now returned to Sri Lanka,” a press release from the High Commission of Sri Lanka informed and said 1,500 Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka were stuck in India but were evacuated over the last few days successfully.

Earlier India had streamlined the movement of goods and people across the border with Nepal in view of the threat of the virus. Kathmandu has boosted health screening on the border and in some places local administrations have placed restrictions. “As of now cross-border movement continues,” said an official.

Bangladesh on Sunday became the latest country to support the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pledged $1.5 million to the initiative proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the Maldives came forward to support the emergency fund to fight the pandemic.

Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday the crisis fund would be used to fight the emergency needs of the member countries as the cases of COVID-19 increase. “On the emergency fund, it is already up and running. We have already received many requests from other SAARC countries for assistance in the form of masks, shoe covers, gloves, disinfectants and other items,” said Mr. Kumar during the official weekly briefing.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:31:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-south-asian-coordination-on-pandemic-crisis-intensifies/article31136722.ece

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